The well known and beloved South African food shop, Melissa’s, has just launched their online store – which is pretty much the best news for a pyjama-wearing, freelancing hermit like me. If I could do all my shopping online, I would. Oh wait, I live near a city now – I can! *adds to growing list of reasons to love new home* I was also very happy to find out that a number of Melissa’s amazing sauces and dressings are vegan and are such great additions to some of my staple veggie meals. The dishes in this post are all super easy and delicious – not to mention perfect if you’re having meat-eating friends over for a dinner party and you want to ensure that they leave feeling super-full and satisfied (and, of course, raving about your food). Alternatively, the salad makes a great lunch on it’s own, the nachos are fab for when you’re having peeps over for drinks and the bolognese is perfect for an easy midweek home dinner.Before I get into the food, can we just all take a moment to appreciate Melissa’s beautiful packaging? If you know me, you’ll know I’m a massive fan of illustration and pretty wrapping paper, so friends and family – expect your gifts to all be wrapped in this for the next year. Actually, just expect Melissa’s hampers. Pre-packaged and prettily wrapped already, it’s a no-brainer for any last-minute gift (which, let’s be honest, most gifts are). From birthdays to mother’s and father’s days, or even a little me-time spoil – Melissa’s has your back.
This first recipe is one of my favourites and a lunchtime meal I have at least twice a week. I’m always on the lookout for yummy dressings to jazz up my salads and this Pomegranate and Cranberry White Balsamic Vinegar is a new favourite.
Chickpea and Quinoa Salad with Melissa’s Pomegranate & Cranberry White Balsamic Vinegar
1 can of chickpeas
1/2 cup quinoa (I used red quinoa)
Baby spinach leaves
Bring the red quinoa to boil in a pot filled with 1 cup of water. Allow to simmer until cooked (about ten minutes). Drain any excess water and allow to cool. Drain and rinse chickpeas throughly. Chop your tomatoes, cucumber and yellow pepper as desired and place in a mixing bowl with the baby spinach and rocket. Add 2 tablespoons of Melissa’s Pomegranate & Cranberry White Balsamic Vinegar and mix gently with a wooden spoon. Place on plate as desired (I used a rectangular serving plate) and then cover with quinoa, chickpeas and sliced avocado. Finish off with a generous slug of the vinegar over the top and serve.
This next recipe is one that I’m really excited to share as I am a massive fan of Nachos – always have been, always will be. The only problem with eating vegan is that nachos now have to be served sans the cheese… or do they? I found a fabulous recipe for a vegan ricotta cheese from the Thug Kitchen cookbook which works marvellously alongside the guacamole and Melissa’s delicious Tomato Salsa.
Nachos with Guacamole, Vegan Cheese and Melissa’s Tomato Salsa
Smash 2 avocados with lemon juice. Add salt and pepper.
Vegan Cheese (recipe from Thug Kitchen)
1/4 cup hulled sunflower seeds
1 block tofu
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Pour the sunflower seeds into a food processor and blitz for 2 minutes.
Take tofu out package, and drain of any excess water. Add to food processor and blitz with sunflower seeds until smooth.
Place mixture in a mixing bowl with the lemon zet, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and garlic. Mix in gently with a wooden spoon. Stir in the nutritional yeast slowly. Done! (I add in chopped basil or coriander leaves for extra yumminess, but that’s purely up to you). Place in fridge until cool.
Place the guacamole, tomato salsa mix and “cheese” into separate bowls and serve alongside your choice of nachos. Yum!
This dish below is adapted from one of my favourites from the Deliciously Ella cookbook. It never fails to disappoint, and may I just throw it out there that some meat-eaters (ok, just my husband, but he is a chef so he counts as like ten meat-eaters) have agreed that it’s actually better than regular bolognese! I used my absolute favourite Melissa’s product for this one – I eat it with a spoon right out the jar – the Slow Roasted Marinated Tomatoes to add extra flavour to this dish.
Lentil Bolognese with Melissa’s Slow Roasted Marinated Tomatoes
3 large carrots
1 jar of Melissa’s slow roasted marinated tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 packet tomato puree
2 tins of lentils, drained and rinsed
Peel and grate carrots.
Add the carrots, the jar of slow roasted marinated tomatoes and crushed garlic to a large saucepan with the tins of tomatoes, lentils and 2 cups of boiling water.
Stir everything together, bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for 45 mins, stirring now and then,
Once it’s almost ready, cook the pasta al dente and drain. Place on dish and spoon bolognese over the top (or, alternatively, mix in with the bolognese and then serve).
You can order all of the Melissa’s products used above from their online store. Happy cooking! Let me know if you try out any of the above dishes – I’d love to know how you found them.
** The vegan cheese recipe is adapted from the Thug Kitchen cookbook and the lentil bolognese is adapted from the Deliciously Ella cookbook – both books are essential to any vegan’s bookshelf, in my humble opinion. **